Deterring terrorism a framework for making retaliatory threats credible
Tippet, Douglas F.
Knopf, Jeffrey W.
Davis, Zachary S.
MetadataShow full item record
To deter terrorism, U.S. deterrence strategy must threaten retaliatory responses that are appropriate to the actions by non-state actors the United States wishes to prevent. The effectiveness of those threats depends on the perceived credibility that America posesses the capability and willingness to execute them. Although U.S. policy focuses on preventive and preemptive counterterrorism strategies, this thesis argues that it contains relevant targets for retaliation but lacks credibility because its threats do not distinguish between types of attack. Instead of correlating threats to undesirable actions, it declares the same punishment for all terrorism, which is unrealistic ex post. On the contrary, the level of response should be proportionally related to the type of attack and destructive effects of an attack and in tune with the level of public outrage the attack would generate. This thesis first provides theoretical support for the claim that recent U.S. policy documents contain valid threats for influencing non-state actors. Then, credibility is evaluated by comparing those threats to the expected U.S. response for two dissimilar scenarios: cyber and nuclear terrorism. The analysis suggests that policy threats lack credibility because the signaled response for terrorism holds constant across varying degrees of attack severity. Because the likely responses to these attacks differ in practice, the undifferentiated signals sent by recent policy weaken deterrence. As a result, the thesis recommends establishing a retaliation framework based on type of attack.
Approved for public release, distribution unlimited
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) (Monterey, California. Naval Postgraduate SchoolCenter for Homeland Defense and Security, 2009-09);September 2009. The overarching theme of this issue of Homeland Security Affairs is response – to public health emergencies, natural and man-made disasters, threats of nuclear attack, and the messages of terrorists. One ...
Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) (Monterey, California. Naval Postgraduate SchoolCenter for Homeland Defense and Security, 2007-06);June 2007. Welcome to Homeland Security Affairs, Volume III, number 2. In this issue, we are pleased to offer essays and articles from James Delaney, James Burch, and Thomas F. Stinson, Jean Kinsey, Dennis Degeneffe, and ...
Tallen, Bill (Monterey, California. Naval Postgraduate SchoolCenter for Homeland Defense and Security, 2008-06-00);This is an article from the June 2008 [v.4 no.2] edition of the Homeland Security Affairs Journal. This article talks about the need for the homeland security community to provide more attention to the threat of paramilitary ...